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    Alys Beach this morning

    By fictional\_/Christopher
    Feb 18, '17 1:33 AM EST

    This ought to be your mug shot if you designed this place. 

    This morning I drove through portions of Alys Beach still in construction  and was going to point out the amount of masonry work in progress and note why it was a good idea…well, Andres Duany already explained this fact as a feature of Alys Beach as quoted on the website:

    “Alys Beach has exceeded everyone’s expectations in terms of sheer beauty. It proves that architecture that is profoundly ecological and tough enough to resist hurricanes can be beautiful. This is important. There is too much of the attitude that “green” and “hardened” buildings are inevitably coarse and ugly and that we ignorant folk are supposed to just put up with it. Not so—as you can see at Alys!”

    …and rightly so.  This is my favorite 30A South Walton project.  Duany Plater-Zyberk did another project on 30A you may be more familiar with - Seaside.  Remember the Truman Show

    At Seaside a while back had a bunch of good mojitos at that bar just up the stairs facing the beach with the green canvas enclosure, just across the street from downtown?

    This morning I had some good gunpowder green tea from Amavida and no one looked like the characters in the Truman show.  Mainly tourists in sandals and possibly a few locals (very few) in ball caps walking their dogs.

    Back to Alys Beach, here are photos from my quick walk-thru today as I fielded multiple phone calls for work, including one requiring Landmark Preservation Commission approval, seemed fitting. The camera shots were taken while distracted.


    (now that's a nice detail, even a modernist minimalist could love)

    A segue from banksy not graffiting brutalism (one way to save it!) to me next post....

    ....and the neighbor across the street is:

    Hilton House by Arthur Dyson


      3 Featured Comments

      All 30 Comments


      For a sec I thought you found the Klan headquarters.

      Nice stoop.

      Feb 18, 17 6:51 pm
      Featured Comment

      Where to even start? This grossly overpriced second-home development for the obscenely rich was first touted as having "Moorish" architecture which has absolutely no connection to this Gulf of Mexico region at all. After a few years of the asshole Islam followers talking their children into becoming suicide bombers the references to the Moors was dropped and now it is all about "Bermuda"  style architecture. This shit is being built on sand. When another Camille comes through you will have to go halfway to Atlanta to find the pieces. Welcome to Architecture 101: How to fuck up a beautiful part of the planet for the one-tenth of one-per centers.

      Feb 19, 17 7:11 am

      thank you for your comment Volunteer.  Do you like any of the developments on 30A? 

      The New Urbanism ones:


      Rosemary Beach

      Feb 19, 17 9:53 am

      No. The town of Grayton Beach was 'New Urbanism' before the term was invented. Duany Plater-Zyberk came up with a the New Urban concept when the authentic one was right under their noses just west of Grayton Beach State Park. You can practically throw a rock between Seaside (and all the rest) and Grayton Beach.They probably went to the Red Bar there, had a few pictures of beer and said, "Hey, let's invent this place, but for the uber rich!".

      Feb 19, 17 12:40 pm

      These places are uber rich because so much of what we build sucks.  Supply and demand.  If the profession actually prioritized community and beauty over ideology and technology, things might be different.

      BTW, no one cares if it's neo Moorish, Bermudian, or modernista, it looks well built and it's attractive.

      Feb 20, 17 8:40 am


      That is exactly what they did when they designed Seaside. If you look back on the planning and research done for Seaside, they traveled to various towns all over Mississippi, Alabama, and right around where they planned on building Seaside to gather ideas and implement them in a very focused way. It also was not really meant for the very rich in the beginning. The environment in the early days of Seaside was more like a design studio with collaborations between designers, contractors, and clients to design a great place to live. For awhile it really did have a small town feeling and over the years more and more people have found out about it and want to enjoy it as well. Now it I has become something very different then what it was planned for, which is essentially a travel resort, although the winter months are quiet and remind you what it was originally designed for. 

      Feb 20, 17 11:38 am

      Fucking new urbanism. I thought this shit was dead, but looking at the comments, maybe it is not. This could be a good template for the White America that is currently being created.

      Feb 20, 17 8:55 pm

      If new urbanism is really no different that old urbanism, what is it about traditional cities that you don't like?

      Feb 21, 17 8:30 am

      Thayer-D, who said anything about not likely traditional cities. I for one cities. 

      Sameolddoctor, If you like walkable communities with a variety of building types and uses in them then you like New Urbanism which is, as Thayer-D, pointed out really just Old Urbanism.

      I think the problem people have with New Urbanism is that it is associated mostly with communities like Alys Beach and Seaside where only the wealthy can afford to live there. I completely agree with this and in many ways these types of development are just building a bigger divide.

      However, if you look at the CNU's website, they are talking a lot about cities and how to better them. Such as tearing down highways and interstates that divide neighborhoods and disconnect people from direct access to waterways.

      Really New Urbansim should just be called good Urban Planning. 

      Feb 21, 17 9:50 am

      The dislike of New Urbanism doesn't come from picturesque resorts or even Duany's cigar chomping mug.  It comes from the fact that New Urbanism embraces traditional architecture, something many architects where indoctrinated to reject for "our time."  New urbanism has been the best vehicle to break the intellectual monopoly held by modernists in academia, the media, and the AIA.

      Like sameloddoctor trying to pin it on some retrograde conservative streak when most of the traditionalists are died in the wool liberals, the politicization of architecture is a joke.  How long will it take architecture to emancipate itself from this ideological yoke?  Who knows, but this ain't dying anymore than people will ever reject harmonious music or well composed writting.  It's in our nature to love decoration, proportion, and all the other elements of traditional architecture regardless of style, politics, or ideology.

      Feb 21, 17 11:01 am

      "the politicization of architecture is a joke"

      Thats exactly what you have to tell yourself when you've hitched your wagon to a regressive architectural philosophy that services developers selling property to the culturally conservative. 

      "Architecture isn't political. It means nothing. Style is just a subjective personal preference thing. Don't read into any symbolism. But it also is a continuation of age old traditions in pursuit of an objective beauty and it somehow also means something about Democracy, and its also a rejection of car culture and of academic elitism, but don't say that it reminds you of a plantation because it has nothing to do with that. We're all liberals."

      Feb 21, 17 2:45 pm

      davvid, next time you speak to one of your non architecture friends, ask them what are the politics of a Greene and Greene bungalow, or a shitty 1950''s glass and plastic box.  And my philosophy is making my fellow man happier and healthier by my work, whatever ideological banner you want to assign to it.   As for traditional work "servicing developers selling property to the culturally conservative", you're ignoring how modernism was coopted by corporations in the post war era. 

      The way you casually omit history and even the basic facts tells me you're afraid that the whole ball of modernist wax you bought into is worthless.  It's not, just it's intellectual framework you seem desperate to uphold.   

      Feb 21, 17 3:56 pm

      New urbanism is for rich right wing elitists!  Real architects like Ando, bjark, and FG have nyc condos starting at a very reasonable price of.....   Oh wait, all architecture is elitist and expensive...nevermind ;)

      Feb 21, 17 3:59 pm

      New urbanism is suburbia without front yards.  Sometimes without side yards too.  Thats all.  No magic or deep seeded racist agenda.  Just no front and side yards....the politically radical idea of eliminating  5' property line setbacks somehow attracts rich people.  Interesting how the over reach of govt is not what's in question...but rather the people with the resources to challenge it.  I can guarantee that if decelopers were allowed to squeeze a few more homes into a plot they would be all over it.  

      Feb 21, 17 4:06 pm

      To spin on Orwells famous quote...

      -In a time of over brearing zoning regulations good planning becomes a revolutionary act. 

      Feb 21, 17 4:09 pm


      The idea that New urbanism is suburbia without front yards could have been said 100 years ago.  In DC, they crammed townhouses into neighborhoods that where suburban like Petworth.  Suburbs change and become part of a larger city so consequently as prices to up, so do yards etc.  Just like a single family neighborhood in Chicago of 100 years ago.  It's us who think we are so unique and special, but this has been happening for thousands of years.  It was the modernist zoning that destroyed community.  The reason new Urbanists are in demand is that people crave community.  People love people.  Except Trump.

      Feb 21, 17 4:34 pm

      Urban places usually have people. There are no people in these photos. Surely that is one of the reasons New Urbanism promotes density, mixed uses, and walkability. I guess these photos could be shots that are purposefully devoid of people...

      Feb 21, 17 5:01 pm

      The real hoot here is that you can go 15 miles to the west to Fort Walton Beach and buy an older house on a third of an acre lot for $150,000. It will be about .2 of a mile from the Intracostal Waterway and about .8 from the Gulf beaches. You can update it to Bahamian, Moorish, South of France, Costa del Sol, Georgia cracker, or whatever your little heart desires, and have tons of money left over to buy a boat, or two. Or you can spend $1,000,000 for a tiny lot (2,560 sq feet) at Alys Beach. Your choice, America, a third of an acre lot (14,500 sq ft), with a livable house on it in Fort Walton Beach for $150,000, or a .06 acre bare lot in Alys Beach for a million.

      Feb 21, 17 5:05 pm


      What facts do you feel I am ignoring?

      I'm just pointing out how New Urbanism is riding a wave of delusional bullshit consumerism. Its been doing it since the 80s. You pretend to be ideology-blind because it allows you to stay on the surface without scrutinizing the ethics/meaning too deeply. 

      And you're right that plenty of modernists, post-modernists, etc have operated unethically or in ways that are conveniently apolitical. But I'm not going to throw my hands up and act as though there isn't any coherence or meaning to what we do as designers. History is real and it has meaning. This reminds me of how Trump might exploit a misstated fact in the press in order to call it all "fake news". He needs to undermine the objective narrative so that he can operate in world without any coherent critique or any authoritative narrative. 

      Feb 21, 17 5:14 pm
      Featured Comment

      My point is that new urbanism is really just good urban form.  The reason it seems revolutionary and faux to some people is that we have a whole lot of really lousy urban form largely due to zoning regs and half ass developers.  The anger towards the elitism of well designed communities should be pointed at the regs rather than those with the means to overcome them.  The regs cause a supply demand imbalance making such environments scarce and expensive. I think we are agreeing on that Thayer. 

      The nostalgia attached to new urbanism is really just a longing for the well built sub-urban (not suburban) environments of yesterday.  I dont think thats the same as the longing for the fantasy of an idealized past embodied in the "make american great again" bullshit.  One is a longing for a concrete and tangible thing, the other for a biased and fictioonal thing.  In otherwords, nothing wrong with building on past traits that  work.  Its the reason nature is so so good (ie: natural selection).  Surely we wouldn't  accuse nature of being regressive for keeping crocodiles and sharks mostly the same for so long... 

      Feb 21, 17 5:15 pm

      Disclaimer,,.im not saying "new urbanism" does this succesfully....just justifying its existance.    

      Feb 21, 17 5:28 pm

      Obviously the critique of sprawl and poor land use is serious but New Urbanism doesn't own that critique.

      Feb 21, 17 5:40 pm
      Featured Comment

      These places are uber rich because so much of what we build sucks.


      Feb 21, 17 5:45 pm

      was going to ask if Archinect blogs also had the feature comment option, appears they do. But as the blogger I must ask why those comments, since that was obviosly an editorial decision by archinect?

      Feb 22, 17 7:09 am

      tintt - granted I was on the phone the entire time, I would say half the 'place' was still in construction and it was the middle of February. I saw maybe a dozen non construction workers on bikes or walking dogs.

      Feb 22, 17 7:29 am

      cpm616 - thank you for your contribution and it appears, much like the Highline of NYC (news post discussion on archinect somewhere) as you note its different than may have been a world in which "dwelling" is a commodity, no one should be surprised or wondering "how did this happen?"

      Feb 22, 17 7:36 am

      jla-x, I know we don't agree on everything, but your logic is a cool glass of water in a hot desert.  davvid, what you where ignoring you rightfully pointed out immediately, that every style has been used for unethical ends.  And consumerism is as old as the Greeks, it surfaces whenever there's been a modicum of peace and prosperity.  Like it or not, it's the darker side of our survival instinct.  Gorge when you can.  That's not to excuse it, but merely to understand human nature.

      As for a-political,  I can't stand the environmental degradation that our system produces.  And you want to talk about the politics of the current urban paradigm, I'm with you, but until we get someone as handy with a knife as they are with the pen, we're going to have to resist this bullshit as best we can.  In the mean time, don't confuse someone's political leanings for the content of their character.  We have a lot more in common than the press would have you believe.   

      Feb 22, 17 8:17 am

      @Chris, those comments were "featured" by me. Your post and the entire discussion were great. Admittedly the comments I featured weren't representative of the larger discussion though... tduds in particular I felt like was a nice summation of opinion(s).

      Feb 22, 17 10:44 am

      nam i just replied to your post twice and no luck? either way, thank you for clarification. i see this feature of the feature leading to more discussions possibly.

      Feb 22, 17 11:59 am

      For sure!

      Feb 22, 17 1:32 pm

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Boredom as a result of too much to do.  Too much professional practice architecture.  Too much reality. Lots of fiction.

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